FIRST PLATES 2013

East

When Eastside Cafe opened on Manor Road in 1988, who could have predicted the charming restaurant on the way to the old Mueller airport was the harbinger of things to come for what is arguably the Austin hospitality industry's hottest growth area? Eastside Cafe proved to be the anchor for the development of Manor Road's eventual restaurant row, and now, busy restaurant, bar, and food truck corridors are quickly developing along Cesar Chavez, East Sixth and Seventh, and 11th Street/Rosewood as well. Most of the growth in this area is of the independent, small-business variety, propelled by the last relatively affordable real estate near the heart of the city plus a hip, avant-garde vibe born when artists and musicians began pioneering the neighborhood in the early Nineties. The Eastside has it all: restaurants, bars, brewpubs, music venues, food trucks, urban farms, metro stops, hispster joints, and artisan food producers, in flavors that range from old-school Tex-Mex to Top Chef-driven Asian fusion. – Virginia B. Wood

Blue Dahlia Bistro

Opened in 2007 as an early component of the East 11th Street renaissance, Blue Dahlia is a restful, reliable spot for French-inspired snacks and light meals, including waffles, blintzes, croissants, dinner entrées, cheese plates, and wine, and often incorporating fresh breads and local greens. Signature open-faced sandwiches called tartines are highly recommended. – MM Pack

1115 E. 11th, 512/542-9542

Cherrywood Coffeehouse

This comfy spot with its welcoming vibe and kid- and dog-friendly patio has been whole-heartedly embraced as the neighborhood hangout in Cherrywood. What's not to love? There's excellent coffee to go with breakfast, lunch, or dinner, soul-satisfying Sol tacos, a reliable burger, and one of the best muffalettas in town with Zapp's potato chips. – Virginia B. Wood

1400 E. 38 1/2, 512/538-1991

Contigo

When the first generation of children raised in East Austin's Mueller development grow up, their memories will all include afternoons and evenings spent at this überpopular spot that became a neighborhood fixture the day it opened. Contigo boasts the perfect mix of comfortable, mostly outdoor accommodations, good drinks, and casual, ranch-inspired cooking. – Virginia B. Wood

2027 Anchor, 512/614-2260

East Side Show Room

Step into this East Sixth spot and time travel to vintage movie houses and Prohibition era-music halls. The constantly changing menu drops anchor in the modern food revolution with local, sustainable dishes such as Windy Hill Farm goat meatballs and fresh pickle plates. Fascinating cocktails include the St. George Swizzle and the Leather Sombrero. – Jessi Cape

1100 E. Sixth, 512/467-4280

El Azteca Restaurant

The friendly Guerra family has been serving up classic renditions of the established American regional cuisine known as Tex-Mex since 1963 in a restaurant that was East Austin Democrats' hallowed ground. We're fans of the classic combo plates, and it's still the only place in town for cabrito flautas. – Virginia B. Wood

2600 E. Seventh, 512/477-4701

East Side Cafe/Elaine's Pork & Pie

An Austin champion for organic produce, this Manor Road beauty serves an exquisite bounty of freshness, with dishes ranging from artichoke manicotti to beef and goat cheese enchiladas. Sister cafe Elaine's focuses on two top-notch treats: pulled pork sandwiches and bourbon buttermilk pie, plus a few extras for tasty measure. – Jessi Cape

2113 Manor Rd., 512/476-5858
2113 Manor Rd., 512/494-1464

Franklin Barbecue

Aaron Franklin's meteoric rise from humble trailer food operator with a cart not far from our offices to national media-revered barbecue pitmaster has been truly amazing. The daily line outside his popular Eastside eatery attests to the enduring quality of his brisket, which has sold out every day the restaurant has been open. – Virginia B. Wood

900 E. 11th, 512/653-1187

John Anderson

Hillside Farmacy

Designer Mickie Spencer, chef Sonya Coté, and co-owners/operating partners Jade Place-Mathews and Greg Mathews renovated this historic East Austin building and then named the restaurant in an homage to the original tenant, Austin's first African-American pharmacist. These days, the place serves up oysters and locally sourced, farm-to-table fare, and is all the rage with hipster foodies. – Virginia B. Wood

1209 E. 11th, 512/628-0168

Hoover's Cooking

For more than 15 years, East Austin native son and fifth-generation Texan Hoover Alexander has been packing them into his restaurant with taste-tempting renditions of classic Southern comfort food, complemented here and there with a dash of Tex-Mex, a whiff of barbecue smoke, and a pinch of Cajun/Creole spice. – Virginia B. Wood

2002 Manor Rd., 512/479-5006

Juan in a Million

These easy-on-the-wallet, plentiful platters of Tex-Mex on East Cesar Chavez have delivered many Austinites from hangovers and hankerings since 1980. Juan's Famous Breakfast is served all day and features migas, huevos rancheros, enchiladas, and tacos galore. For $4.50, the "Don Juan" El Taco Grande will challenge you to a duel. – Jessi Cape

2300 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/472-3872

Justine's Brasserie

The hourlong waits have subsided for the most part, but the quality of the food, unmatched atmosphere, and bartenders' taste in music are still top notch. Justine's remains a go-to place for special occasions, to take out-of-town visitors, or to meet with friends for drinks. – Claudia Alarcón

4710 E. Fifth, 512/385-2900

Nubian Queen Lola's Cajun Soul Food Kitchen

Her story is as genuine as her food. Six days a week you'll find diner-style Cajun soul food from pork chops to po'boys, plus daily specials and all-you-can-eat Friday gumbo. Closed on Sundays, Lola Stephens gives back with free food in the cafe's backyard for those in need. – Jessi Cape

1815 Rosewood, 512/474-5652

John Anderson

Salty Sow

Pork is king at this gussied-up farmhouse, which made its Manor Road entrée last spring. From the candied pork belly to the milk-braised pork shoulder, which pairs nicely with the accompanying (if puzzlingly out of season) vegetable sides, chef Harold Marmulstein puts the "wow" in "sow." Don't overlook the cocktails, either. – Melanie Haupt

1917 Manor Rd., 512/391-2337

Takoba

I love everything about Takoba: their superior micheladas, Interior Mexican dishes, beautiful patio, and owner Jose de Loera's affinity for soccer, which turns the adjacent Cantina El Milamores into fútbol central. Not to mention they have the best carnitas in the city, and some killer mezcal and sotol cocktails. Viva Mexico! – Claudia Alarcón

1411 E. Seventh, 512/600-4715

Trailers

Candice Gallion

Bud's Po'Boys and More

Bud's fans from Shoal Creek are happy he's now established in the Mueller food trailer park. His gumbo, étouffée, red beans and rice muffaletta, and po'boys are as good as ever. – Virginia B. Wood

4209 Airport, 512/586-4425

Cazamance

West African fusion reigns at this darling trailer. We're still dreaming of the Couscous Moroccan, packed with cranberries, parsley, tomato relish, and set on top of a hearty bed of mixed greens with cucumber slices. –Gracie Salem

1102 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/487-7222

Candice Gallion

Fresh Off the Truck

This is one of Austin's most sophisticated food trucks, serving stellar versions of Asian street food – from Vietnamese bánh mì to Japanese rice boxes to Hawaiian specialties like the astoundingly elegant spam musubi rolls. –MM Pack

4209 E. Airport

Mick Vann

John Mueller Meat Co.

Irascible and gifted, John Mueller smokes some fantastic barbecue from his latest venture on the Eastside. Short ribs to die for, amazing sausage, great pork ribs, wonderful brisket, and a sauce that improves all it touches. –Mick Vann

2500 E. Sixth

Kenny Pailes

la Barbecue

Hailed as the best barbecue in town by many, this trailer leaves most brick-and-mortar barbecue joints in the dust. Freshly handmade sausage, moist, meaty brisket, tender beef ribs, and more make this spot a wait-in-line destination. – Kate Thornberry

1906 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/605-9696

Micklethwait Craft Meats

Tom Micklethwait's vintage 1960 Comet food trailer is cranking out some of the best smoked sausages in the ATX, not to mention the superb pork, chicken, ribs, and brisket; among the elite of the Austin barbecue scene. –Mick Vann

1309 Rosewood, 512/791-5961

3 Little Pigs

Chef Ray Tatum's porkalicious sliders and crackling meatloaf are sublime, as is his Asian fried chicken. Get a pairing suggestion from East End Wines and enjoy dining on the lovely patio. – Virginia B. Wood

1209 Rosewood, 512/653-5088

Veracruz All Natural

Her legion of fans know Reyna Vasquez serves up excellent smoothies, breakfasts, and the very best migas taco in ATX at her strategically placed Eastside trailer. – Virginia B. Wood

1704 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/981-1760

Via 313

The absolute best pizza in East Austin – and South Austin, too (see their setup at the Red Shed Tavern) – comes out of this trailer, owned and operated by Detroit natives Zane and Brandon Hunt, who have thankfully introduced me to the wonders of Motor City-style pizza. I am officially an addict. – Claudia Alarcón

1111 E. Sixth, 512/939-1927
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